JUNIOR GOLF BURNOUT
When I was playing junior golf in the 1960’s and 70’s there were just a handful of national and statewide tournaments and relatively few junior golfers playing the game compared to today. During my junior year of high school, friends across the country and I highly anticipated the arrival of the American Junior Golf Association and couldn’t wait to enter the few events that would make up the first national “tour” for accomplished junior golfers.
Today, U.S. junior players are blessed with several, year-long national tours. Additionally, every PGA section and city across America boasts rigorous, statewide and metro events, bringing more and more junior golfers into the game each year. It is not uncommon for an advanced junior golfer to travel to 15 (or more) events per year, excellent preparation for Division I college golf and possibly even a career in professional golf.
High school golf has also evolved into strenuous schedules with daily practices and tournaments every Saturday during a season with regional and state championships that go late into the next season. All great opportunities to grow the game and experience team golf. But there’s a dark side to this progress . . . the possibility of total burnout at a young age.
SEE THE SIGNS
If you are tired, anxious and drained, it is impossible to play well for an extended period of time. Talent and pure adrenaline may carry you for the short-term, but burnout won’t be far behind. Watch your tournament scheduling and ask the help of an LPGA or PGA professional to see if you are over- scheduling events. Too many rounds can, in fact, cause injuries and interfere with much needed rest. EAT HEALTHY and consult with a trainer to maintain simple workout sessions to help stay in shape and avoid injuries. A scheduled appointment with a nutritionist is well worth the money to implement a diet that improves your performance and endurance. This will also make the potential transition to college golf much easier for you.
MENTAL FATIGUE AND STRESS
It is easy to get overwhelmed and demand too much of yourself too quickly. Failing to achieve goals, even unrealistic goals, can easily translate into negative feelings about the game. Add competitive parents into the mix too and you will soon see teens that have schedules and practice session rivaling the most prolific tour players . . . and no down time to be a young teenager, not to mention a young student!
Check with your pro about realistic expectations, achievable goals, and reasonable practice and tournament schedules. Have at least one day a week to chill out and rest. Also practice positive thinking (focusing on what you can and do accomplish) and be patient with your progress. If you are diligent (without being a fanatic) about your practice regimen (did someone say, “short game”?), you will see improvement.
At The Golf Academy, our favorite expression is "Process Over Outcome". Simply put, focus on your process and task list of getting better and let go worries of your performance! Although some may disagree, I urge my students to keep up any other sports they may love . . . for enjoyment. There are quite a few options, may which will compliment your golf game.
If you suffer from lack of confidence issues, try taking up a hobby that is "out of your comfort zone" like skeet shooting, piano, dance or horseback riding lessons. A new challenging hobby can bring back confidence in your golf game and help clear mental clutter on the course! College coaches often recruit two-sport athletes who can demonstrate athleticism on the course and on the field or court . . . and who aren’t afraid of 6 am workouts.
CONSISTENTLY HIGHER SCORING
This is a sure sign of burnout. If you are taking lessons, practice correctly every day, but if you are shooting higher scores each time out, something is definitely wrong! Take a break and consult with a professional that can evaluate your tournament and practice schedules. Sometimes a break can bring much needed drive and determination back into your game. There are many touring professionals that take a month off and don’t touch a club. You may be so consumed with “finding the perfect swing” that you have forgotten how to just get the ball in the hole! My best tournament finishes came in 1974-77 when Kentucky was experiencing some of the worst winters recorded. The year I won the Optimist Junior World, I had not touched a golf club all winter . . . and had tried cheerleading! Taking a break could be your best move.
FEELINGS OF FAILURE
This problem is burnout in a nutshell. No one can enjoy a round of golf and maintain perspective — remember, it is just a game—if they are feeling like a failure to themselves, to their parents, or to their coach.
Gut-wrenching feelings of inadequacy can cause a player to quit out of the blue, especially if winning or perfection is expected in every championship. Find a counselor, golf professional, friend or former player that will listen to your frustrations. Realize that your scoring will have highs and lows and that you should be in it for the long haul, looking forward to teeing it up when you are 75 years old . . . and purely for the love of the game. This is hard to do as a pre- teen or high school student, but look at the small successes you are experiencing and focus on positive thoughts as you move toward you short- term and long-term goals. Step back each week and evaluate your game, first seeing your successes as accomplishments, and then seeing your weaknesses as opportunities for improvement during short intervals of excellent practice.
Success—in golf and in life—generally requires hard work. But, in the end, if you are not enjoying the journey, you will eventually burn out. Keep it all in perspective, develop a training program that provides balance, set your goals wisely to allow for success . . . and don’t forget to celebrate those successes!
Betty Baird Kregor, LPGA Master Teaching Professional consults and mentors athletes and their parents in all areas of performance and college recruiting using the DISC profile system. For more information visit www.straightshotinc.com and The Golf Academy, Persimmon Ridge Golf Club, Louisville, Kentucky. www.thegolfacademypr.com
To schedule a consultation with Betty Baird Kregor about your goals and game plan for the future email Betty at firstname.lastname@example.org.